It seems that everyone, whether they’ve been a parent or not, has an opinion on how to be a parent. And they’re more than happy to share it! As it happens, some of the “wisdom” that they share turns out not to be that wise after all.
With parenthood comes a lot of joy, including unconditional love, lots of bonding with extended family members, and a whole bunch of unsolicited advice.
Family and friends mean well when they offer their cough opinions and “help,” but oftentimes the advice they give is not exactly accurate. Don’t know which are facts and which are fiction? Here are the most surprising and widely shared myths about parenthood.
You’ll spoil your baby if you pick them up whenever they cry.
You’ll hear this a lot from an older generation. It used to be believed that if you catered to a child’s need, they would get used to it and keep asking for more. Decades of study and research have concluded that you just can’t spoil a newborn.
Newborns need care, love, and attention. They need reassurance, bonding, and touch. It’s important for their physical and emotional development.
If your child cries and you pick him up and he stops crying—he needed to be picked up. Children need to learn trust and gain confidence that their needs will be responded to and met. Studies show that during the first six months of life, a baby’s primary job is to develop this sense of trust.
After six months, experts suggest that you can pull back just a little, but only to let them figure out that they’re okay on their own—and that you’re right around the corner if they need you.
The “twos” are terrible.
In truth, the period known as the “twos” (really the time between 18 and 30 months of age) are both terrible and wonderful at the same time! The twos really are only terrible if you’re unprepared and inflexible.
During this period, your sweet, agreeable, fun-loving baby can be replaced by a rebellious, stubborn, and tantrum-throwing toddler from hell. Don’t fret though! It’s a natural and healthy part of development—and it happens to most everyone.
The good news is that the more prepared you are for it, the better it will be for you and your child. If you also try to keep your sense of humor and remain flexible, the both of you will emerge brilliantly! During this stage of development your child will run toward independence and being an individual. She’ll want to make her own decisions, tell you what she thinks, and she’ll fight you hand over fist for what she wants. She’ll also test you and push your boundaries.
It’s important for your child to establish her own identity, and experts suggest that you encourage her to do so. Set limits by offering choices, “I see that you don’t want broccoli. Would you like corn or peas instead?” This gives your child the feeling of individuality and being in control.
Experts also recommend limiting the events when a rebellion may occur, say, if food shopping has become somewhat of an issue. Instead of forcing it, try to eliminate it.
Find a time when you’ve got help or when your child is in school so you can go by yourself. The good news is that this period does pass, and you will move on to easier times.
Bribing your child is always a bad idea.
Experts agree that most of time it’s not a good idea to bribe your child, but it can come in super handy in the emergency situations when you really need help. Say, for example, you’re at the doctor’s office and you need your daughter to sit quietly while you talk to the nurse about something critically important. It doesn’t hurt in this case to promise her you’ll get her ice cream after the visit if she stays quiet.
Experts also explain that there is a difference between bribery and offering rewards or incentives for positive behavior. For example, it would be fine (and not considered bribery) to offer your child a shopping spree reward for completing three months of Hebrew school.
Some would mistake this for a bribe, but it’s really an incentive for a job well done. What makes a bribe a bribe is paying your way to get cooperation for simple everyday things like being polite, doing chores, and being patient. These cases need to be limited, because you don’t want to instill in your children the understanding that they aren’t required to behave and listen unless they’re getting something out of it. Try employing reward-free logic first and turn to bribery as a last resort.
Children need “quality time.”
It’s believed that the concept of quality time was originally coined to reassure parents who had fewer hours to spend with their kids that the focused, uninterrupted time that they spent with their children was better than the hours and hours of unfocused time that other parents did.
However, research shows that both quality and quantity time with children are equally valuable, and really, any time spent with kids is considered important.
Researchers found that quantity time (time spent with kids in an unscheduled manner, also known as “hang-out”) was just as beneficial as quality time to the well-being of a child. They concluded that the key was to have a balance of both.
Oftentimes, the weight gets shifted too far in one direction and a child ends up getting pummeled with too much of one and not enough of the other. As long as a parent recognizes it and slowly makes the shift to more balanced parenting, the kids end up happy and healthy!
If you don’t discipline your child for every misdeed, they’ll end up bratty.
Have you ever heard the phrase “pick your battles”? It was indeed created for issues that arise with children. You can’t respond to every misdeed with a firm response—you’d spend your life battling!
Child behavioral experts explain that what matters more than consistency is your children knowing when you’re serious and mean business.
It’s fine for them to think that they may have gotten away with something, or that you’re being lenient, as long as they recognize when you’re serious and that they need to rope their misbehavior in.
Experts say it’s important to stand your ground when you do mean business so that kids can recognize the signs that they’ve crossed the line and know their boundaries.
Parents shouldn’t fight in front of their children.
This statement could be myth or truth depending on how parents fight. If you and your partner can fight maturely without screaming, blaming, cursing, and being abusive, then it’s a good thing for your kids to see you fight.
Children learn a lot from their parents’ behavior. Through observing calm, blame-free yet heated discussions, children learn conflict resolution and how to do it properly to keep communication open and relationships healthy.
Arguing is a component of every good relationship, and by disagreeing and working toward resolution, children learn how to model this behavior in their own relationships. Constant bickering, manipulative tactics, and verbal abuse benefit no one. If you see that your argument is headed in that direction, it’s best to put it on pause and continue the fight behind closed doors—away from the kids.
Another reason to put a fight on pause in front of the kids is if the fight is about the children and parenting them. Experts warn that making kids privy to this information is never helpful, and parents (regardless of their individual opinions) need to present themselves as a united front when it comes to parenting.